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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
7- Baptism by Immersion
(1) It is clear from the Holy Bible that baptism was by immersion and not by sprinkling, even at the time of John the Baptist. The Lord Jesus Himself was baptised by immersion. That is why the Holy Bible says: "Then Jesus, when He had been baptised, came up immediately from the water" (Matt.3:16); (Mark.1: 10). Our Church names the Day on which the Lord Jesus Christ was baptised "Immersion Day" to confirm this meaning in our minds.
(2) The same meaning of the expression "came up immediately from the water" is used in the event of Philip baptising the Ethiopian eunuch. The Holy Gospel says: "And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptised him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away" (Acts 8: 38,39). This proves that baptism was by immersion. If it were by sprinkling, it would have been adequate for Philip to sprinkle water on the eunuch while he was in the chariot without the necessity for both of them to go down into the water.
(3) The word 'baptisma' means dye. Dyeing cannot be done without immersion.
(4) Baptism is the action of being buried with Christ and tasting death with Him, as the Apostle says: "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death" (Rom.6: 4) and we were "buried with Him in baptism" (Col.2: 12). The action of burying cannot be achieved except by immersion. The coming up out of the font signifies rising with Christ after having died and been buried with Him, whereas sprinkling does not express the action of dying and rising.
(5) Baptism is a rebirth. Birth is the coming out of a body from another body. This is manifested in baptism when the body of the baptised comes out of the font, whereas sprinkling does not express the action of birth at all.
(6) Baptism is the washing away of sins as said to St. Paul (Acts 22:16) and as St. Paul said in his Epistle to Titus: "He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3: 5). The action of washing needs dipping into water which is represented by immersion but not by sprinkling.
(7) Whoever looks at the buildings of the early churches will notice the existence of immersion fonts which are proof that baptism was by immersion and not by sprinkling because the action of sprinkling does not need a deep font.
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